This is a very special post, and it’s very dear to my heart!! In fact, this particular blog feature involves my very own sister! 🙂 I’m so glad she was willing to share her story and these photos with you all in the hopes to inspire and encourage many. And, gosh, does she have a story to share with you all!! 🙂 I could not be more proud of her!
Amanda’s Weight-Loss Journey
As long as I can remember, Amanda had dealt with many knee complications. Back in middle school, was identified as Osgood-Schlatters disease. She was always in pain, primarily when she was active, and it wasn’t getting better as she aged. However, as the years went by, the doctors couldn’t say for sure whether it was still Osgood-Schlatters disease. Ultimately, they knew there was a problem, and they could fix it! Finally, after 11-years of being in uncomfortable pain and finding the perfect doctor, she decided to have the Fulkerson Osteotomy procedure done. She was excited to start a new chapter of her life, pain-free, and we were all hopeful for her!! Her first surgery was in October 2012, and then she had the second surgery in November after the first knee was in good shape. However, this is when the unexpected doozie happened. Almost a month later, on Christmas Eve, she slipped on ice while walking into church. Tragically, she broke her leg because the bone wasn’t fully healed, and veryyyyy fragile where the screws were in place. Holy moly. I almost threw up… HA! Not quite the reaction you were thinking? I couldn’t handle seeing her in pain, so I wasn’t as supportive as a big sister should have been. But that’s okay because I can just say that I have too much empathy. 😉 HA! She had a LONG road to recovery, especially after the leg break. She had to go back into surgery for the third time that year to fix her leg. After she took the time to fully heal and rebuild muscle, she had a bilateral surgery to remove all of the hardware in both knees in January 2014. Does this sound exhausting to you??? Her body went through SO much stress over the year and a half of countless surgeries. Amanda had to take another six months to recover from that final surgery, and that’s when she started recognizing the changes in her body.
The inactive nature of healing from several surgeries, and not eating wholesome foods led her to the point of frustration for years down the road. In 2016, she battled feelings of discontentment and lethargy. She finally hit a breaking point! In February 2017, she decided enough was enough! She had been going to the gym here and there since 2012 but knew that her diet needed an overhaul if she was serious about losing weight. She set a goal to lose 50-pounds, and by the end of July 2018, she not only achieved that but she went from a size 14 to a size 6!!! Talk about incredible!!! 🙂 We are all SO proud of her!!!
Back when Amanda decided she was going to overhaul her lifestyle, she asked me if we could make a photo shoot happen when she hit her goal. I couldn’t imagine a better way to celebrate!!!! But, what I didn’t realize was how much the photo shoot would impact her, and even myself!
Since she had just hit her goal a couple weeks ago, so we thought it would be PERFECT to do the photo shoot the weekend of her Birthday. As a gift to herself, she saved up money to enjoy a spa day and purchase a new wardrobe. I love that her Birthday was not just a time to celebrate a new year, but a time to close a chapter and start a new one, on a happier, more confident note! 🙂 We got together last Saturday morning in downtown Warrenton and GOODNESS… I didn’t recognize the woman who stood in front of my camera! She was glowing from the inside-out!!! So confident. So beautiful. Although she has always been beautiful, it was undoubtedly shining from within. I loved seeing her smile and laugh SO big, especially in these portraits!! It was obvious how happy she was when I was photographing her, and that just made my heart overjoyed! What really filled me up that morning was when we were about to head to our favorite coffee hang out spot (what up, Deja Brew!), she told me how much the shoot meant to her and how it kept her motivated throughout the weight-loss journey. I didn’t even realize the impact of her session until she said that, which made our time together even more special! I’m glad her best friend (aka, our other sister from another mother), Isabella, was able to be there for her as a talented makeup artist and a cheerleader as we took photos! 🙂 While we were hanging out talking about our fun morning together, Amanda pulled up a photo from Time-Hop with a picture of the three of us enjoying Deja Brew coffee exactly a year ago! Haha! Looks like we unknowingly started a tradition! 😉
I’m SO excited to share these beautiful photos of my sister! Amanda, you look absolutely AMAZING, and I know this year is going to bring so many blessings your way!!! <3 I hope you enjoy these photos as much as I do!!! Thank you for your willingness to share your story and these photos because I know it will inspire someone out there who needs a little encouragement. 🙂
So… How did she do it?
I did a little interview with her and thought you might find her story inspiring to share with you all!
Makeup by the talented Bella by Bella! <3
What was your most significant change to lose 50-pounds? I cut out the carbs and sugar. Cutting out my “once staple foods” like pasta, bread, and potatoes made a huge difference! I started taking note of the added sugars in my food as well. Even if it involved shying away from certain fruits that were high in natural sugars. That helped shred the pounds! I loved finding yummy and creative recipes that fit my wants in my new diet strategy. My favorite, go-to resource was Pinterest! But there are other resources/apps out there like Mealime and Yummly that are custom to your diet, which is helpful! I discovered so many amazing recipes that didn’t make me miss those unwanted carbs and sugar! Of course, though, I had cravings, but I diverted my appetite to other healthier options, like cheese!
What diet worked for you? I didn’t follow a specific diet per say. I did a combination of multiple methods and customized it to my comfort. I started with Weight Watchers and modified it by cutting out the carbs and sugars, so Keto had an influence as well. I tracked points with Weight Watchers and attended meetings to weigh-in and keep myself accountable. I had the mindset that my weight was going to be recorded, so it kept me motivated to continue dropping the pounds. What also helped was having a friend who kept me going in the right direction whenever I struggled. When it comes down to it, you cannot do it alone. It was necessary having a key supporter along my journey to keep my spirits high when those struggles set in, because it’s not easy to keep fighting week after week, month after month.
What work outs worked for you? I focused on cardio. Because I work a full-time job and travel 3-4 hours a day going to and from the city, I had to find a work out that worked with my schedule. So I found happiness jogging at a local greenway! I didn’t grow up as a runner, nor do I see it “fun,” but I pushed myself by jogging/walking 2-miles every day. Not only did it make my work out amusing by going back and forth between jogging and walking, but it fluctuated my heart rate to drop the weight faster. After I had lost a good amount of weight, I felt comfortable enough to starting lifting weights again. I got into a routine of lifting three days a week and jog/walk two days a week. I broke up my lifting days throughout the week to focus on different muscle groups. I found it helpful working with trainers to critique my form and hone on my goals. I owe a lot to their knowledge, support, and help!!!
What was the biggest challenge as you were on your weight loss journey? Staying committed!!! I cannot strain enough how hard it is to maintain the drive over time. It took determination, and it was difficult because it can be a mind game. I tried talking myself out of following my diet and/or going to the gym, but that little voice in my head told me “NO! You need to go!” And again, having my supporters refocus me kept me in line. If I gave in, I gave myself a guilt trip, but the key was to not guilt myself so much that I resented my plan. I picked up where I left off and continued forward, allowing to forgive myself.
How long before you saw results? I did not see the results immediately. But what really helped was taking weekly pictures. I compared photos from week to week, and I started seeing results, which was very encouraging. Like I stated before, having someone who keeps you accountable is very important. I sent my progress photos every week to my friend, who confirmed seeing the changes happening, even when I didn’t notice it. Once I hit the 15-pound mark, I started seeing the results in my pictures! 🙂
How has your life changed since losing the weight? YES!!! I have never felt happier!! I have so much more energy and love for life! It was challenging to be confident in the past, especially when I hit low points, but now I feel confident and beautiful! I honestly feel like an entirely new person with a bigger and better view of the future!
Do you have any advice for those who are trying to lose weight? Do NOT give up. Keep going, even when you go through trails of temptations. Keep pictures you aren’t too fond of because you can find motivation in those reminders. Think about how much better you’ll feel once you lose that weight, even at that first 15-pound mark! You will have hard days and weeks but go in with that expectation that there is a battle to fight and YOU can conquer it. Don’t be too cruel on yourself and give yourself grace. If you have a bad day, recognize it, take control, and most importantly, don’t beat yourself down, be sure to forgive, and continue pressing forward! Every pound counts, and is one step closer to a healthier, more confident you! Build up a support team and trust them to help you keep going. I could not have gotten through this without my family and friends!
Amanda, I’m SO proud of you!!!!!